A memoir of a rural childhood
Memoir of a childhood 'living the dream' in 1970s Wales. Emma Kennedy (the Tent the Bucket & Me) meets Laurie Lee (Cider with Rosie).
In 1972 Abbie Ross’s cosmopolitan parents move the family from London to rural North Wales, exchanging a town house in Islington for a remote farmhouse on a hill.
Abbie’s Liverpudlian grandparents – dedicated followers of Liberace, sleek in scented mohair and patent leather – are sure they’ve lost their minds. For Abbie, though, the only cloud on the horizon is the nearby hippy commune and its inhabitants. There are worrying signs that this is the sort of ‘better life’ that her parents have in mind.
Brilliantly evoking a particular time and place, Abbie’s memoir re-creates a world of dens and pineapple chunks, of John Craven’s Newsround and fishing for sticklebacks – and the joy but also the burning powerlessness of being a child. Disgusted by her father’s ‘yogic flying’ and her mother’s taste for brown bread and billowing cheesecloth (with no bra), Abbie is desperate not to be different. Far better, she thinks, to fit in with shouting, pathologically nosy Sara across the fields,or stay close to Philip next door – paralysingly shy and with a preference for orange food and no trousers (‘nice to have a bit of air’) ...
Rich with detail that reveals a whole world, Hippy Dinners is very funny and full of heart. It is also a delicate and astute portrait of the brutal realities of ‘a simple life’.
“Ross’s vivid evocation of a Seventies childhood ... has great charm. Anyone who grew up in the era of Benny Hill, cheesecloth and Charlie’s Angels will find it irresistible.”
Jane Shilling, Daily Mail
“Charged with delicious quirky wit and a joyful celebration of the ordinary, this is an irresistible account of a child's passage towards the adult world.”
“Hippy Dinners is an absolute joy ... It is both sweetly moving and killingly funny.”
“Spot on and very funny about desperately wanting to be normal.”
Nina Stibbe, Author of Love, Nina
“Shot through with wit that is at once knife-sharp and full of warmth, HIPPY DINNERS recreates the fragile, half-understood world of childhood with glorious polaroid immediacy. I loved it.”
“An outstanding debut, and a wonderfully antidote to misery memoirs. Hippy Dinners is so good, so funny, so true. Abbie Ross has a pitch perfect ear and eye for how children distort and magnify life , how they talk to each other, their humiliations and joys.”
Julia Gregson, Author of Jasmine Nights
“An irresistible childhood memoir [and] a brilliant evocation of a particular period in the early 70s – a world of cheesecloth, home-made brown bread and John Craven’s Newsround. Warm, laugh-out-loud, enchanting - read it now!”
“The characters are fondly drawn - particularly little Philip.”
The Sunday Times
“An astute portrait of the realities of 'a simple life' and rich with detail and full of heart.”
“A sweet-natured memoir... Ross is excellent at conveying her desire to conform...Hippy Dinners deftly conveys the child's sense of powerlessness and confusion in a world she - and worse even the adults around her - can't control.”
Victoria Segal, Guardian
“Made me laugh out loud”
Kate Hamer - author of The Girl with the Red Coat, Financial Times